Life and Health and business

I have been falling behind on my goal of writing one article per week. I have been quite busy with life and health and business though, as everyone is I’m sure. Well, this article is an update on what is going on.

First, I have been really serious about getting healthy and losing weight. I topped out at 248 pounds and I developed self-diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. My wife, Laurie, recorded my sleeping and my snoring went from annoying to life threatening in the span of several months. I was not breathing for long periods of time and it sounded like I was breathing through small gauge straw that was pinched on one end. I used to be a total morning person, I would wake up and be ready to take on the world, but I was waking up tired and was tired all day long. My health was in a massive decline.
At the recommendation of several friends we stopped eating all animal products and have been eating an exclusively plant based diet. I immediately see why people are raving about it. I was skeptical at first, I thought it was just a radical fad. Now I am a believer. I lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks and my sleep apnea went away almost completely. That was 4 weeks ago, today I am down 18 pounds and I feel great. I have more energy in the morning and all day long.
I have been having an amazing time inventing vegan all plant based recipes. My meals have been so good it is mind boggling and I can eat a pretty hearty amount of food but I don’t get that horrible sick feeling that I used to get when I ate the same amount of food that contained animal products like butter, cheese and meat. I learned how to make a super simple cheese replacement using organic cashews and nutritional yeast and it is very good and satisfying. Instead of meat I use mushrooms and squash and other vegetables to make really tasty and filling meals. I have no craving whatsoever to eat meat or dairy any more. Making great vegan meals has become a fun hobby; I can’t wait to get to the kitchen and make delicious meals.


I have been sharing my recipes with my friends and I think I will start sharing my best ones here on my blog site. If that interests you, please save my blog so you can check in on it later.
So, taking on a new eating lifestyle has actually been quite time consuming. But it has been enjoyable. In addition to that I have been working on my business plan to open a Packaging and Shipping store with mailbox rentals. That project is moving along quite well even though I am also working 3 part time jobs. My next blog article will update the status of the business. My experience with building my store will be of interest to entrepreneurs everywhere so please check back.

By Tim Sanchez

Packaging and shipping store, part 2

By Timothy Sanchez
This post may contain affiliate links, please see our full disclosure here

Last week I introduced my plan to open up Avalon Packaging and Shipping services or Avalon PASS. I have been in the planning stage of the business for over 1 year already and I have been operating on a limited scale. During my research and planning I have been talking to many people and have been getting valuable feedback about what is needed in our community for such a business.

For anyone who wants to start their business; community involvement in the plan is an important step. Some people may think that they should keep their business plan secret for fear that someone else might steal your idea and beat you to it. That is an understandable concern but it is most important is to get the feedback that you need to develop your plan to cater to the needs of your target customers and your community.

What is needed in your community and how can your business fill that need? Find what problems people are having and find out how your business can solve their problem.

Here is how I am crafting my business plan. I live in a unique island resort community. The US postal service does not deliver mail in Avalon. The only way to receive mail is in a USPS provided post office box. PO Boxes are only provided to full time year around residents, but we have hundreds of seasonal workers who live here for 3 to 8 months out of the year who need to receive mail and packages. Additionally many people have a need to send packages via UPS or Fed Ex but there is no way to do that and pay with cash or credit card. There is a contractor that handles UPS and Fed Ex deliveries but can only pick up packages with pre paid labels, or we have to write out credit card number on the box and they charge it on the mainland. Another local issue is the fact that most seasonal workers live in group employee housing or sort of bunk house arrangements and receiving parcels securely is nearly Impossible. Addresses are not really used here and not clearly recognizable, therefore Packages are mis-delivered, lost or stolen on a regular basis.

Avalon Packaging and Shipping store plus mailbox rentals will solve these problems. I am in the process of contracting with the US postal service as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency. Avalon PASS can rent mailboxes to anybody; including seasonal residents. A box holder will therefore have a safe place to receive mail and parcels from USPS, UPS and Fed Ex. We can also ship packages via all the major carriers and we can even professionally package the items they wish to send. That is the basis of my business idea. I see a need in my community so I am building a business to fill that need and solve a problem.

There are many other products and services that easily pair with a pack and post store, therefore there are a lot of ways to make money.  Many pack and post businesses also offer print and copy service, notary public service, key copying, promotional products and there are a host of other possibilities. The motto for many such businesses is diversify, diversify, diversify. Find out what people want, see if you can do it and be profitable and add it to your menu of products and services.

I am in the process of securing a retail space for my store. I am going through necessary legal paperwork for the business and establishing accounts with suppliers. If you are interested in building your own pack and ship store or business; feel free to contact me if you want specific advice or have questions. I will be writing a complete guide based on what I am learning and will make it available when it is complete. I will say the first thing you must do is write a business plan. That sounds easy enough, but there is a lot to a proper business plan. I got a little help from an Ecourse and you may find it helpful too, click here to check it out.

If you have the money to invest or can get a business loan and live in a place with a high enough population, buying into a franchise like mailboxes etc. or the UPS store would be a very good way to open a pack and ship business. Franchise companies offer a lot of support and marketing that will help you be successful. For people living in small isolated communities or if you are starting your business on a limited budget; a franchise may not be the best route. My blog focuses on do it yourself entrepreneurs building businesses from scratch with very little money to start.

 

The lifestyle of a successful independent vending machine entrepreneur

By Timothy Sanchez

This post may contain affiliate links, please see our full disclosure here

Reflecting back when I owned and operated a vending machine business, I would like to share what a typical workweek was like. First of all I purchased mostly used snack and soda machines from a small business that repaired and refurbished them. I bought brand new gum ball and bulk candy machines direct from a manufacturer. I found my suppliers by doing a lot of footwork and asking vendors a lot of questions.

I mostly got my own locations however I hired a salesman to help me and he got about 20 candy locations. In vending the location of your machines is the most important thing. When I say location I mean the business where the machines are placed. For candy machines I looked for locations where there are waiting areas like hair salons, auto mechanic shops and small offices. For the large soda and snack machines I looked for large businesses that have at least 50 employees and large break rooms. I avoided placing soda and snack machines In areas that are accessible to the public due to the potential for vandalism. High traffic public areas could be very profitable and a high school or college campus could be a gold mine but it requires extra equipment designed to minimize vandalism otherwise maintenance costs could break you. I chose to put my machines in businesses where only employees could access them.

I had about 100 locations between candy locations and soda and snack machine locations.. The service route consists of every two week customers “ETW” which were the candy machines, weekly locations and my large locations I serviced twice per week. I had two locations I visited Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They were my bread and butter locations, one was a large office of telemarking insurance sales people and the other a large warehouse. Monday was shopping day. I got the newspaper on Sunday , this was 1992 we still read newspapers back then. I would look for coupons and big sales on cases of soda and I would go to the store where I can get the best price. I sold a can of soda for anywhere from .50 to .75 cents depending on the location. I tried to buy at .20 per can or less and most of the time I was able to. After I got the cheapest soda I went to Costco to by cases of snacks and candy. I only serviced a few locations on Monday and Friday, I did the majority of my service stops Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was bank day when I did my accounting and took my giant bags of cash and coins to the bank.

Service consists of stocking the machine with fresh product and taking out the money and doing minor maintenance on the machine. I am not going to go into a lot detail on that aspect on this post, but I am going to share what the real key to success is for being a vending machine entrepreneur.

All of the locations that I stole from other vendors , I was able to take because they did not provide good customer service and the principal people in the business didn’t even know who their vending person was. Times have changed now, but back in the early 1990’s in Southern California there were a lot of people getting into vending. It seems the the business attracted people who thought vending was all about the machine. They had no people skills and wanted to go in, service the machine and not have to deal with any humans. The guys would come in wearing dirty clothes and looked like slobs. I knew from the beginning that I could do better.

The vending machine business is a customer service and sales business. You might not succeed if you don’t have people skills. I sold my services as a convenience to the business so I did not have to share my profit with them nor did I pay for electricity. They wanted my machines in the business so their employees can use them and get convenient snacks while they worked. I wanted them to feel good about patronizing my machines. So when I visited a location to service the machines I always dressed nice with business casual pants black shoes and a button down shirt or polo shirt. I always spoke to the receptionist or manager in charge when I arrived and greeted them. I got to know people and asked what everyone likes in the machines and I made notes about what my main contacts like. I gave away product; I gave a candy bar or a can of soda to the people I dealt with. If there were people going to the machine to use it while I was servicing it, I just gave them what they wanted. People loved that. If someone told me they lost money in my machines I refunded them and gave them something, no questions asked. I made sure that they knew who I am so if a competitor came it to try and steal my business it wouldn’t work because I developed a relationship with them. Their vendor was not some unknown mysterious person who sidled in and out, their vendor was Tim.

So customer service and personal relationships is how to maintain a successful vending business or any business. However you still need to make money, so even though you want to become friends with your client, you need to be able to pull your machines out and place them elsewhere if they are not selling enough or if there is repeated vandalism. A machine is a money making investment that must pay off. Part of being a successful vending business person is finding the best locations for machines. Instead of getting more locations and buying more machines, you find new locations and pull your lowest grossing machines that are not earning an acceptable profit out and move them to a better location. This way you maximize the income from each machine. Once all of your machines are profitable, then you work on expanding the business by buying more machines and getting more locations. Eventually you must split the route and hire an employee and you keep repeating all of that until you build your vending machine empire.

Being a vending route owner was a very enjoyable and rewarding time in my life. Sadly I had to get out of the business because of personal reasons but I sold the business for a good amount. On a side note; I hand sorted all of the coins that came from my machines. I developed a method that I could sort and count very quickly, yet it enabled me see all of the coins. I learned how to spot the difference between clad coins and silver coins. As I sorted I tossed all of the silver coins into a box and stored them. The coins I collected from my vending business is what got me into E-commerce later on. Follow my blog and I will share my story of how collectible coins helped get me into selling on Ebay, e-commerce and where that business is going next.

Avalon PASS; an introduction to the packaging and shipping business

By Tim Sanchez

This post may contain affiliate links, please see our full disclosure here

This week I want to share what my current entrepreneurial pursuit is. My business is called Avalon Packaging and Shipping Services or Avalon PASS. I first came up with the idea of opening a pack and post business from my experience with my e-commerce store and with my work at The Avalon Hotel.

I live on Catalina Island in Southern California. I am a perpetual entrepreneur and I moved to the resort village of Avalon seeking a more casual lifestyle where I can explore independent business opportunities and entrepreneurial pursuits. I broke away from the corporate world in 2005, quit my job as a District Sales Manager for USA TODAY and became a SCUBA instructor. I planned to chase the endless summer dream by moving between the north and south so I can stay in the summer zone and travel the world teaching SCUBA. I got as far as Catalina Island and that is it. The weather is so amazing here year around there is no need to chase summer.

I have been casually doing e-commerce since 2007, since I was working as a SCUBA instructor at the time my niche has been about dive gear. My stores got to the point where I was Packaging and Shipping 8 to 10 orders per day. I became very efficient and was able to get the orders out quickly either before or after I went to work. I also offered to help The Avalon Hotel with their shipping. The hotel sells spa products, robes coffee mugs and various other gift shop items and they receive many phone orders for products to be shipped. Additionally, sometimes guests will forget something in their room and leave the island, so the hotel will send the lost and found items to them. I took over all of the hotels Packaging and Shipping tasks. It had been a struggle for the front desk staff to do it and maintaining an inventory of packaging supplies took up too much space. Finding a box and tape, figuring out how to pack an item, going to the post office and dealing with petty cash for postage were time consuming tasks that took a staff member away from providing customer service or making sales. For me to do the packing and shipping along with what I was already doing was easy and seamless.

Since I started doing pack and post for the hotel, I realized that other businesses could benefit from this service also. I began developing a plan to offer packaging and shipping services to all businesses and residents in Avalon in early 2017. Now I am working on acquiring retail space to make the business modeled after a UPS Store or a mailboxes etc. type of store. I believe there is a need for mailbox rentals primarily for parcel receiving and for temporary residents and summer workers in the resort town of Avalon. As the business grows other services will be added including public access computer stations, hot desks, WiFi, phone charging, copy and print service and other business services including e-commerce solutions.

Please follow my blog as I will share more about the beginning of Avalon PASS and I will chronicle my progress and the process of developing an independent packaging and Shipping business. I will share my success and hopefully not too many failures. I am also anxious to share other business ideas that some of my friends and colleagues have developed. I will interview them and share what they came up with and I am sure that you will find it interesting and motivating. Finally I would like to share the story of how I got into selling on Ebay and e-commerce and how my former vending business created the steppingstone.

How I built a successful vending business

By Tim Sanchez

This post may contain affiliate links, please see our full disclosure here

An entrepreneur is a businessperson who has vision and can see an opportunity and grab it. You must be observant and have an understanding about where there is a need that can be filled with a business and then capitalize on that need. There are so many small business opportunities out there already available and many more that can be invented. This is the first in a series of blogs that will overview various business opportunities and interview entrepreneurs who who successfully built their own business.

The first installment is vending business and I will relate how I started mine and what made it successful. I started, operated and sold my vending business many years ago. The vending industry has changed since I was in it, but the concept of how to go about fueling your entrepreneurial drive still works for whatever opportunity you want to pursue.

First off, when you want to build a successful business you will do the best when you do something that you love. If you love to do it you will naturally have the knowledge and skills to do it, or at least you will have the motivation and interest to develop the necessary skills.

My career choices early on were everything to do with driving delivery vehicles that went from place to place providing services, making sales and deliveries. I was working in a grocery store when I was 20, stocking shelves. Whenever any deliver person came into the store I was compelled to talk to them and ask them about their job and what it is like. One day I was talking to the bread guy and he said he was looking for a helper, so I started working for him delivering bread to stores and restaurants. This was my entry into the route sales business. After that I worked for bottled water delivery, coffee service, courier routes, newspaper route, Sysco foods and UPS. In the middle of all that I decided to start my own vending company.

I was 30, I was managing a bottled water company and doing well. Whenever I was making deliveries to businesses I would always see people getting things from the vending machines, I learned that having vending machines was an important part of a business for a fast and easy way for workers to grab a snack and a drink during their breaks. I was fascinated with this. I also observed, however, a lot of frustration over vending services. Machines were often empty, out of order or not stocked with the things people want. I would often see post-it notes on the machine begging the vendor to put a certain item in the machine. I overheard on many occasions people complaining about the vending machines always being out of the things people want. It was clear, many vending machine companies were not taking customer service seriously. I became passionate about wanting to provide vending machines along with excellent customer service and I would destroy my competition.

That was the motivating factor for me to start my vending machine business. I did not know much about vending other than the fact that somebody goes and fills the machine with stuff and takes out the money. So this is the key to starting any business; I researched and researched. One of the things I did was I went up to vendors when I saw them and asked questions about the business. I would ask questions like where do you get merchandise for the machines, where do you get machines, how do you get businesses to let you put a machine in their place? Many were not willing to answer those questions so I had to ask a lot of people to get a few nuggets of information. I took good notes and continued my research. I followed up on information by finding the places where vendors say they get supplies and I went there and asked more questions telling the suppliers that I am starting a vending business. They wanted another customer so they were more willing to fill me in. No matter what business you want to build, Once you are able to find suppliers who are willing to work with you; you will be on your way.

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I bought a load of brand new bulk candy machines from one vender and went around to retail shops and placed candy machines in hair salons, dry cleaners, offices and bars. These are the machines where you put a quarter in, turn a dial and a handful of bulk candy comes out. It turns out bars were my biggest selling locations especially with Red Hots and Peanut M & M’s. I also found a vending machine repair service who refurbishes soda and snack vending machines and sells them. He also delivers the machines which is helpful because they are big and heavy. I bought a bunch of machines and I negotiated a discount because I bought several machines at a time. Once I had the machines I went to office buildings and factories and warehouses and simply asked the managers if they are happy with their vending service. Many of them were not. So I sold myself describing my many years of excellent customer service in various route sales jobs and promised I would do all of the things that their current vendor is not doing. It was surprisingly easy because vending machine operators in that area were really bad at that time. I know customer service and I convinced the customers that I would do better and they were sold. I convinced them to cancel their vending service and get their vendor to pick up the machines and as soon as they did, I put my machines in.

I bought my product from warehouse stores like Costco, Smart and Final, and others. Wherever I got the best prices or wherever there was a good sale on cases of product. I bought a used cargo van from a clearance dealership who sells fleets of vehicles to large companies. They had a fleet of cargo vans that had been traded in for a new fleet. They refurbished the trade ins and sold them cheap, the one I got was very reliable. I named my business The Snack Specialist. I specialized in providing snacks in businesses. I learned how to repair or replace the components of the machines. I stocked parts so I Could make repairs quickly.

It was a successful business, I built it from scratch and had to sell it due to family issues, but I made a big profit on the sale. I split the business into three routes and sold it to three individuals who were looking to get into the business.

That is my experience with the vending business. I am sharing this because I hope that if you have the entrepreneurial drive and want to start any business weather it be vending or something else, you can apply these principles to create your success.  In a future blog I will relate what it was actually like running my vending business in more detail. Spoiler alert, it was great! I had all the freedom and flexibility to do many other things like pursue my Scuba Diving hobby. And I made some good money that set me up for another successful business endeavor that I will also write about soon.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

FIRE or PE? What does freedom look like for you?

In my research about how to become independent from employment slavery, I frequently come across articles about FIRE. I was told that if I have not heard of FIRE I must be living under a rock. I actually live on a rock but that is a whole other story. Apparently FIRE is all the rage now it stands for Financial Independence / Retire Early. At first glance I thought, yes that is what I am looking for. But is it really? Looking at Financial Independence literally it means having all the money you need without doing anything more to get it. For example, retiring with a big pension, being the beneficiary of a trust fund, saving and investing boatloads of money or winning the lottery.
This is the dream of many, retire early and start living the good life. For many people in my age group, living in the fourth quarter, if you don’t already have at least a couple million dollars in the bank it’s probably too late to save for true lasting financial independence and early retirement. To be realistic in my personal plans, I am working towards an independent lifestyle where I can earn enough through entrepreneurial endeavors to live comfortably and be able to enjoy a retirement like lifestyle while I am young and healthy enough to enjoy it. Rather than retiring from working; I am working toward breaking away from confining clock in and clock out employment and going independent, working on my own terms through entrepreneurial pursuits. That is what I call PE or perpetual entrepreneurship ; the idea is to develop the independent income streams through entrepreneurial endeavors to the point where they are generating steady income while personal involvement to work at it lessens with time. Ideally to have a business that can be run by employees while you take a cut of the profit to live off of. Or build it up to the point to where it is marketable to sell the business at a good price and live off the proceeds.
Currently I have an e-commerce business and I am expanding my business to meet a need that I see in my community. The very notion of entrepreneurship is finding a need and building a business that fills that need. Catalina island is a resort island off the coast of Southern California. The only town or city is Avalon; 2.9 square miles with a population of approximately 4000. Avalon is a beautiful hamlet that is well marketed as a weekend escape vacation destination therefore the primary revenue to the island is through tourism. During the busy summer season there will be hundreds of temporary workers that will move in and work for 4 to 6 months. One of the challenges for temporary residents on an isolated island is getting mail and packages. Avalon has no mail delivery, the only way to get mail is through a USPS provided PO Box and only full time year around residents are allowed to have one. Temporary residents can receive mail addressed to their name , General delivery, Avalon, CA. 90704. Then they can pick up mail at the window. That works to a point, but they can not order things online because most online retailers will not send product to a general delivery address. Plus some online retailers ship via UPS or Fed Ex. In Avalon a local company delivers parcels from those major carriers but temporary workers often live in bunkhouse type of workforce housing complexes and that creates challenges for receiving their parcels. Therefore I am working on opening a mailbox rental company similar to mailboxes etc. or the UPS store. Anybody, year around residents and temporary residents will be able to rent a mailbox and receive their mail and parcels securely and reliably at Avalon PASS. I looked into buying a franchise but they are very expensive and I would have to pay for services that the franchise requires that is not necessary  in our small community like big advertising and marketing campaigns. If you live an a large town or city on the mainland a franchise may be a good option for this type of business.
Avalon Packaging and Shipping services aka Avalon PASS is being modeled after a UPS store or mailboxes etc., but I am building it from scratch. Avalon PASS will fill another need in our community; packaging and shipping. Often visitors overpack or over shop and end up with too much stuff to carry home with them, so we can ship it for them. Hotels, restaurants and tour operators find items that guests leave behind. Most will be happy to send the lost item to its rightful owner but that is time consuming so Avalon PASS takes care of packaging and shipping items or merchandise for them. We have all the packaging materials and facilities to pack and ship easily and efficiently as I am already operating an e-commerce business and I ship product daily. There are many other income streams that will be included in the business including various business services for local businesses and travelers alike. I have been operating the business on a small scale with only a few clients for over a year now and I am gearing up to launch it full scale by the beginning of 2019.
I will make regular blog posts to document the progress. I hope my readers will find it informative and encouraging to anyone who has an entrepreneurial drive to start a business. Perhaps following my development of the business will be useful to anyone who dreams of starting any business weather it be pack and ship or something else. Years ago I built a successful vending business from scratch so this isn’t my first rodeo. Look for my blog about starting a vending business coming soon. Please follow my blog and feel free to comment, ask questions and share.

Follow on Facebook too: AvalonPASS or click the Facebook link on my blog sight.

Tim and Lauries RV Experiment Wrap up

Tuesday November 6, 2018

Winding down our vacation we hightailed it from freezing at the Grand Canyon to Palm Springs on Friday morning , November 2 for a taste of warmth for a couple of nights. We spent Saturday playing tourist sort of, we rode the famous tram up to the top of Mount San Jacinto and enjoyed the views for a couple hours. Then we went down and caught the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie at an IMAX theatre. I have always loved the music of the band Queen. It was a great movie, the actors did a great job of emulating the band members especially Freddie Mercury and Brian May.

Since we did not have any other transportation except for the motor home, we used Uber to get around Palm Springs. When we buy our motor home we will make sure it has the towing capacity to pull our Toyota 4Runner behind it so we can get around more easily from our camp sights. Either that or we will buy a smaller car to tow, but either way you have to have a tow car if you do the Motor Home thing otherwise you will be stuck at the campground or will need to pay for a lot of taxi and Uber rides.

Sunday morning we moved to Featherly Wilderness Preserve in Anaheim. We stayed at Canyon RV park backed up to the edge of the Santa Ana river. Epic site! Canyon park is a hidden jewel next to Green River Golf course it gets two thumbs up from me. The only drawbacks are it is expensive, $75 per night, you can hear ambient freeway noise even though there is a massive sound wall and they don’t have WiFi. It is still worth the visit.

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We spent some time organizing and cleaning the RV Sunday night because we planned to return it as early as possible Monday morning. We drove it back to Carson and got there around 10:00. We learned that it is pretty hectic on a Monday morning with many people returning at the same time. We were not as ready as we would have liked to have been. They were very kind and patient while we packed up. Next time we will stop somewhere and pack everything up and transfer it to our car before we pull into the Cruise America lot. We returned the motor home clean and full of gas, propane and the holding tanks were empty. Our full deposit plus a little extra was refunded to us because we filled up what should be full and emptied what should be empty, our refund was $578.00. The total cost of a 15 day rental ended up being $1500.00 or $100.00 per day plus our fuel and campground fees. It was totally worth it. Our trip was unforgettable and so enjoyable we would recommend it and we would definitely do it again except I think we will buy our own motor home now.

Our assessment is without a doubt, RV life is for us. This is what we want to do long term someday.

Now we are home and it is time to get back to building my business.

Please continue to follow my blog by clicking the link ; keep up with the progress of my entrepreneurial pursuits on the road to becoming independent and free from employment.